Underwater robot challenge held in the Lir National Ocean Test Facility in Cork

19 July 2016
By David O’Sullivan
david@TheCork.ie

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The Irish Naval Service were announced as the winning team of the IMERC Mechathon which took place in the Lir National Ocean Test Facility in the MaREI Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy at the UCC Beaufort Building in Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork yesterday. The IMERC Mechathon, which is sponsored by Tyco and Enterprise Ireland, challenged five teams to participate in a deep sea robot building competition where they had to design, build and finally, battle, their robot underwater.

Teams from the Halpin Centre for Research and Innovation in Cork Institute of Technology; The Irish Naval Service; the MaREI Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy; Tyco and Tyndall National Institute all participated in the IMERC Mechathon. As part of the I WISH Imagines Programme, an initiative that aims to inspire, encourage and motivate young female students to pursue careers in STEM, each participating team mentored a female transition year student for the duration of the competition.

“The IMERC Mechathon is delighted to be partnered by the I WISH Imagines Programme. Each student worked with a team and over the course of the competition, and helped to brainstorm, prototype and build the robot before presenting at the grand finale. Through the I WISH partnership with the IMERC Mechathon each student had the opportunity to experience, first hand, what it is like to work on an exciting and innovative STEM project in world-class facilities,” said Martin Wall, Manager, The Entrepreneur Ship and coordinator of the IMERC Mechathon.

Speaking at the event, Martin Corkery, Regional Manager for Enterprise Ireland and Judge of the IMERC Mechathon said: “Enterprise Ireland is delighted to sponsor the IMERC Mechathon. Ireland’s ‘blue economy’ is developing at a pace and there are fantastic technologies emerging from our research institutes. Underwater robots are driving the exploration of our seas and oceans in ways that were never possible before so it is encouraging to see the teams here today develop functioning and effective underwater robots in a relatively short space of time, and with a small budget.”

Each participating team were given three months to build a robot that could complete an underwater obstacle course in one of the world class test tanks in the Lir National Ocean Test Facility. The Irish Naval Service robot, which the judges deemed to be the most effective and efficient, was announced as the winner and will take home the prize of €1500.

“I would like to congratulate all of the teams who took part today. This programme challenged participants to create functioning robots suitable for underwater use. It is really quite incredible to think what they have achieved and I hope that the young students, who participated in the competition, got a feel for what it is like to work in such an innovative and exciting sector,” added Martin Corkery.

Lir National Ocean Test Facility is a custom designed test facility within the MaREI Centre which houses four tanks at various scales and depths for emulation of ocean waves, currents and wind. The Lir NOTF research infrastructure allows for the wave-to-wire design of wind, wave and tidal renewable energy devices.

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